Smith follow-on call in Ashes spotlight; Australia is 53-4
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Steve Smith chose not to enforce the follow-on against England and it backfired when the Australia skipper was trapped lbw in a top-order collapse Monday that altered the complexion of the inaugural day-night Ashes test.
Nathan Lyon took a stunning return catch among his four wickets as Australia bowled England out for 227 on the third day, a 215-run deficit that gave Smith the option of sending the tourists straight back in and attempt to compound their woes under lights.
The pink ball swings further and moves more off the seam in night conditions that are ideally suited to veteran England paceman Jimmy Anderson, but Smith decided to bat again in a bid to build a big lead.
Anderson duly stepped in. He and Chris Woakes took two wickets each to have Australia’s second innings in deep trouble at 53-4 at stumps, an overall lead of 268 runs.
Anderson had Cameron Bancroft caught behind in the third over with the total at 5 and trapped Usman Khawaja (20) lbw to make it 2-39.
Woakes had David Warner (14) caught at second slip in the next over and then – after Smith was lucky to get an lbw decision overturned against Anderson before he had scored – he dismissed the Australia captain for six to make it 50-4.
Peter Handscomb was 3 not out at the close and Lyon, who went in as night-watchman ahead of first-innings century maker Shaun Marsh, was 3 not out after facing 10 balls.
”We’re still very much in the driving seat,” said Mitchell Starc, who took 3-49 in 20 overs that troubled the England batsmen. ”The night sessions are the toughest time to bat. England has only done it for about 10 overs and if they want to win this test they’re probably going to have to do it twice.”
Momentum in the first half of the test went almost entirely the way of Australia, which posted 442-8 declared after England skipper Joe Root won the toss and broke with tradition by fielding first in Adelaide.
The Australian bowlers were right on top after England resumed Monday at 29-1 and slid to 142-7 before a 66-run eighth-wicket stand between Craig Overton, who finished 41 not out, and Woakes (36) restored the innings.
”We fought back nicely but are still behind in the game,” Woakes said. ”It is good to see a fight back and we showed good character and put them under pressure.
”Anything is chase-able really … It’s a good batting surface.”
England lost four 4-99 in the first session – including Root (9) and Alastair Cook (37).
Lyon struck early in the second session, breaking up the partnership between the last of the recognized batsmen when he dived at full length to his left to catch Moeen Ali’s mistimed drive as England slid to 132-6.
Starc took a reflex catch, on the second grab, to dismiss Jonny Bairstow (21) off his own bowling with the addition of 10 to the England total. The Australia paceman then ended the rearguard eighth-wicket partnership in the same mode when Woakes popped up an easy chance just before the dinner break.
Lyon took the last two wickets within four balls – getting Stuart Broad caught behind and Anderson adjudged lbw attempting a sweep shot – to finish with 4-60 from 24.1 overs.
Australia won the series-opener by 10 wickets in Brisbane last week and appeared to be in complete control of the second test, but England’s four-wicket burst late on the third day keeps the contest alive in Adelaide.
England holds the Ashes after winning at home in 2015 but was swept 5-0 in the last series held in Australia in 2013-14.